How Many Calories in Frozen Yogurt?

When the days are hot and long, my favourite way to wind down in the evening is this: Walking with my sweetie and the dog to the local ice cream parlour. Once there, we each get a scoop and chad idly on the benches to our neighbours. Then we happily amble home, relishing the last few hours of warm sunlight.

There's only one thing wrong with this picture: The ice cream. Don't get me wrong -- I love it. Sweet, creamy and delicious, there are few things I enjoy more in life. But it's not exactly healthy. It's loaded with calories, fat and sugar.

But there are healthy options. Gelato, sherbet and frozen yogurt are all lower in fat and calories than regular ice cream. Right? right!? What do you think?

How Many Calories ... in a cup of Haagen Dazs Vanilla Frozen Yogurt?

1. 89 cal
2. 254 cal
3. 400 cal
4. 585 cal

The answer is 400 calories and 4.5 g of fat. Sure, it's less than a cup of vanilla ice cream, which would have 540 calories and 36g of fat, but if you're watching your weight, it's still a fair amount of calories for a treat.

But treat is the operative word here; Ice cream and sugary frozen yogurt are a treat, not an everyday food. Keep that in mind and you should be fine.

Frozen Yogurt Or Ice Cream?

Learn About Both Frozen Treats Before You Decide

A spoonful of frozen yogurt may satisfy a craving for something sweet and cool, but how healthy is it? Since 4th century BCE Rome, frozen desserts have been enjoyed by sweet tooth nibblers looking for something delicious and cold. If you stopped eating ice cream in favor of frozen yogurt, consider comparing the two and deciding for yourself which treat truly is healthier.

Frozen Yogurt
Frozen yogurt was introduced in the 1970s touted as a new cold dessert treat and through the 1980s, it grew in popularity. Yogurt, a dairy product of fermented milk forms the base of frozen yogurt. The tangy flavor and texture of yogurt requires a fermentation process that produces lactic acid that affects the milk proteins.

Frozen yogurt is manufactured in the same way as ice cream with the major ingredients being milk and milk products. Milk fat lends richness to yogurt and most frozen yogurts contain 0.5 to 6 % depending on the type of frozen yogurt. Non-fat, low fat, and regular along with sugar free frozen yogurt makes up the available varieties. Sugar makes up 15 to 17% of the ingredients in this frozen treat. Other ingredients that may be included in the production of frozen yogurt include animal and vegetable gelatins that act as stabilizers, fatty acids for emulsifying, and in small quantities egg solids, color, mineral salts, derivatives such as citrates and phosphates. Flavor additions of fruit, fruit extracts, nuts, cocoa, vanilla, sugars, and various spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger develop the tastes consumers love.

At various points throughout the manufacturing process, ingredients are mixed, pasteurized, homogenized, cooled, and aged with last two steps finishing off the process with packaging and hardening. The finished product may be tangy with live bacteria cultures or not. The creamy cold dessert is sold in cartons or as soft serve.

Frozen yogurt can be made at home in an ice cream maker. Recipes abound and the creamy mixture invites all manner of flavorings and additions of fruit and nuts, although chocolate and vanilla remain the all–time favorites.

Ice Cream
Ice cream comes with a grand tradition of being America’s favorite dessert. Uncertainty regarding when ice cream was created remains, but more than likely, ice cream evolved through the centuries from Persia, to ancient Greece, to China. Marco Polo is often attributed with the delivery of the first sorbet or early ice cream recipe to the west, but this is a disregarded rumor for the most part. In the 18th century milk, cream, and eggs were added giving ice cream a richness that churned through the ages.

When milk, cream, sugar, and eggs are churned together inside a cylinder with rotating paddles and ice keeping the mixture cold on the outside, the end result is ice cream. The churning incorporates air into mixture. Less expensive ice cream may consist of 50% air and be less dense. Premium ice cream may have only 3% to 15% air incorporated into the mixture making it heavier and pricier.

The higher the fat content the richer the ice cream.

Frozen Yogurt and Ice Cream
Both frozen desserts make the mouth water, but which one is the best to choose for a healthy diet? Frozen yogurt and ice cream are manufactured in similar ways. Both frozen treats rely on dairy products. Sugar free frozen yogurt is available as is sugar free ice cream. Non fat ice cream and non fat yogurt can be purchased, but keep in mind that with the reduction of fat, there may be an increase in sugar. Calcium, important to good health, can be found in both frozen food products. Each dairy dessert can be transformed from plain and simple into gastronomical extravaganzas with the addition of fruits, nuts, other desserts such as cookies and candies, and flavorings.

Frozen Yogurt vs. Ice Cream
With so many similarities, is frozen yogurt better for you than ice cream? Makers of frozen yogurt advertise it as a healthier choice. Frozen yogurt is often lower in calories than ice cream, especially the premium brands that are denser in texture with less air whipped into the mixture. The live cultures of yogurt give it the tangy flavor and added health benefits that ice cream does not have.

The fat content varies widely in yogurt because manufacturers have fewer guidelines to follow.

The ice cream industry must maintain a 10% level of milk fat content to be deemed ice cream. The problem with ice cream comes from the saturated fats that have become the bad boys of the food world. Ice cream must have the fat content reduced by 25% to be considered low fat. While both products contain fat, frozen yogurt tends to contain less fat.

The sugar content of each frozen treat may surprise you. The percentage of sugar in ice cream and frozen yogurt may be very similar depending on the brand and variety. Read and compare labels to discover the exact amount of sugar a serving of yogurt contains compared to a serving of ice cream.

Both frozen goodies contain riboflavin, protein, calcium, and other essential vitamins and minerals making the treats healthier than other snack food choices.

Companies may suggest that yogurt is more digestible for lactose intolerant individuals than ice cream.  Because frozen yogurt is pasteurized, it is unlikely that live cultures remain. Once yogurt no longer contains live cultures, the ease of digestion diminishes making it nearly the same as ice cream.

Most health conscious people concern themselves with how many calories they consume. What about the calories that ice cream and frozen yogurt contain? Frozen yogurt fans often claim their treat lower in calories than ice cream, but take a look at two comparable labels. Hägen Dazs fat free frozen yogurt contains 280 calories.

Compare Hägen Dazs to Breyer’s fat free ice cream at 200 calories. The largest share of frozen yogurt calories comes from sugar. As much as 48% of the calories in ice cream come from the fat content. If calories are a concern, read the label.

One of the biggest differences between frozen yogurt and ice cream comes down to the marketing strategy. Makers of frozen yogurt tout their product as a healthy alternative to ice cream. Ice cream manufacturers always claim the goodness of ice cream comes from the rich, creamy textures. Ice cream companies have never made healthy claims, but are changing to answer the demand of consumers seeking healthy snack foods.

You Choose
The basic difference between ice cream and frozen yogurt is the live cultures used to create the tangy flavor of frozen yogurt. Choosing a healthy snack or occasional treat that will not wreak havoc on your diet comes down to taste and reading the label. Always keep in mind portion size. A container of yogurt eaten all at once is two servings. The label gives information for one serving. Additions to the basic recipe make a difference in calories, fat content, and sugar.  Each item increases the overall appeal while decimating what started as a healthy treat. No matter how you look at it, both frozen desserts are sugary foods that should be eaten as s special treat, not as a daily food.

A Basic Homemade Frozen Yogurt Recipe with Variations

Frozen yogurt is quick and easy to make. It contains few ingredients which means you know exactly what you're eating. I always use plain yogurt when making frozen yogurt. While non-fat plain yogurt is readily available, I prefer to use low-fat or even full-fat yogurt for recipes that involve freezing. The fat carries flavor and so lets me get away with less sugar. Fat also freezes at a lower temperature than other ingredients and so creates a softer and creamier feeling/tasting product.

My basic frozen yogurt recipe consists of:

  • 3 cups (720g) strained yogurt, Greek style yogurt, Russian style yogurt, or Lebneh (found at Middle Eastern Markets)
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or another extract of choice (other good choices for extracts might include rose water, almond extract, orange extract or lemon extract.)

If I am straining the yogurt myself, I use 2 cups of plain whole milk yogurt for every one cup of strained yogurt I need at the end. For the above recipe, I will line a sieve with cheese cloth. I will put this on top of a 4 cup measuring cup and scrape 6 cups of plain whole milk yogurt into the sieve. I fold the extra cheese cloth on top of the yogurt. I'll then refrigerate the whole thing for anywhere from 8 to 24 hours. This will make 3 cup of strained yogurt. If space is an issue, it's possible to work in batches. I don't toss the liquid from the yogurt. This is whey and is high in protein. I will use that as part of the liquid when I make smoothies at home.

To make frozen yogurt, I mix the ingredients above. Pop in the refrigerator until very cold.

If you have an ice cream maker, pop the mix into your refrigerator until very cold. Once it's chilled finish the preparations according to your ice cream maker's directions. It will come out soft-serve. You can firm it up by putting in an air-tight freezer container and letting sit for a couple of hours in the freezer.

If you do not have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into a zip-top freezer bag. Lay the bag as flat as possible in your freezer. Every 15 minutes or half hour, take the bag out. Do not open. Merely mush the ingredients around. It's best to wear mittens or oven mitts while doing this to keep from melting the ice crystals you've already formed. When at a soft serve consistency, you can either eat or transfer to a more permanent storage vessel.

Good relatively additions to this frozen yogurt include chopped dried figs, blueberries, rum soaked raisins, nuts or nuts. These can all be folded in at the soft serve stage of things.

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